Tag Archives: Recommendations

Oregon’s 7 Wonders

Travel Oregon came up with Oregon’s 7 Wonders and we’ve slowly been checking them out over the past few years. They’re spread out all over Oregon which is great because it really gives you a chance to see a lot of the state.

This August we finally checked off the last wonder and here’s what we thought of them…

The Columbia River Gorge:

We’ve visited this wonder so many times we’ve lost count, starting when we were both kids, and have very fond memories of this area. It’s a little bitter sweet due to the recent wildfire that ravaged the area but this area is so large that there is still places to visit, and we can’t wait until the trails reopen and we get to see this beautiful place again. We know it will take a lot of time, but the Gorge will come back stronger than ever.

Waterfalls, views, and wildflowers…a Gorge trail will take you somewhere amazing!

      

      

Some of our favorite Gorge hikes are Fairy Falls, Larch Mountain, and Wahclella Falls. If you’re Looking for a good lunch spot check out The Ranch for a good burger in Hood River.

The Oregon Coast:

This is another wonder that we’ve visited countless times. Some of our favorite cities are Newport, Pacific City, and Lincoln City. Oregonians know that the coast really is an all season place. A perfect summer day is amazing but a nice winter storm is fun too! Tide pools and lighthouses are some of our favorite things to check out at the coast along with all the great hiking.

      

      

Some great hikes in the area University Falls, Cape Falcon, and Drift Creek Falls. If you’re looking for some good food check out Pacific Oyster in Bay City.

Smith Rock:

We’ve been to Smith Rock three times and it’s amazing. The hikes are great and you can’t really go wrong with any trail you pick. Our personal favorite is Misery Ridge, it may be a bit difficult but it’s well worth the extra energy spent. With the Snake River Gorge winding through the large tuff and basalt rock formations it’s easy to see why this area made the list.

      

      

Make sure to stop by Juniper Junction (Rockhard) for some tasty huckleberry ice cream.

The Painted Hills:

Probably the most unique place on the list with all of the bright colored hills. There’s so much to see here you’ll need to plan for most of the day to really explore this place. There are trails that take you up hills to allow you views of the whole area. Off to one side you’ll see large hills with yellow, red and purple paintbrush type strokes on them, and then if you look another direction you’ll see smaller hills that are deep red or bright yellow-gold. Make sure to check out the trails that go around the smaller hills, it’s really amazing to see the texture and colors up close.

      

      

For more info on the trails click here.

Crater Lake:

Crater Lake is a Caldera Lake that’s very large and very blue. You can drive around the whole crater rim and there are many trails around the caldera. After spending time at some of the many viewpoints and getting a good look at the lake and wizard island make sure to make some time to explore the trails. A few of our favorites are Plaikni Falls and The Pinnacles.

      

      

While you’re in the area make sure to check out Toketee Falls.

The Wallowas:

Way out in eastern Oregon are the Wallowa Mountains, near the town of Joseph. They call it the Swiss Alps of Oregon and we can definitely see why. The best and easiest way to see the Wallowa Mountains are to take the tramway up to the top of Mt. Howard. Wallowa Lake is also a big attraction in this area, the lake is huge and it offers great views of the mountains as well. There are a ton of beautiful barns in the area, stop at the visitor center in Joseph for a map of where you can find them all.

      

      

We recommend the famous mountain berry shake at the Eagle Cap Chalet and a burger from the Glacier Grill.

Mt. Hood:

Of course the Mt. Hood area would make this list- it’s amazing! The mountain itself is beautiful as are the lakes and waterfalls that surround it. This area can’t be beat when it comes to winter activities too- ski, snowboard, snowshoe…you can seriously do it all.

      

      

Some of our favorite hikes in this area Bald Mountain, Umbrella Falls, Zigzag Canyon, and snowshoeing at White River West.

 

Oregon’s 7 Wonders are truly amazing and they really show off how great this state is, we’ll be back to visit them all again and again!

How many of the wonders have you seen? We’d love to hear what your favorite wonder is!

The Explored Co.

Back in the beginning of summer we were asked to write a journal entry for The Explored Co. We gladly accepted as we have followed a few of the Explored pages on Instagram and Facebook for some time.

We wrote our journal entry (that was posted back in July) about how much we love the Mt. Hood area. There are quite a few entires in the journal section now and they are all great reads.

They also have a shop with shirts, stickers, and a lot more.

 

Have fun checking out a great site and we hope everyone has been able to get in some nice autumn hikes!

Crater Lake (Autumn)

Crater Lake sits in a caldera that was formed over 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama collapsed following a major eruption. It is the deepest lake in the United States and is only fed by rain and snow, it’s considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world. The water itself is an amazing shade of blue, 1,943 feet deep, and 6 miles wide.

      

Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 and is 183,000 acres. You can drive all the way around the rim (33 miles) and there are over 30 scenic pullouts along the way. Some of the best viewpoints are Watchman Overlook and Cloudcap Overlook. Be sure to stop by Videa Falls, it can be seen from a pullout on the main road.

      

We did two hikes while we were here, The Pinnacles and Plaikni Falls. Both are very nice hikes and between them you get to experience the old growth forest, a pinnacle valley, and see some interesting formations left behind from the volcano. Click the links to see a more in depth post about each hike.

      

It actually snowed part of the time we were here. It was interesting because it was only snowing in certain areas and partly sunny in others. It really made us want to come back in the winter and snowshoe!

Make sure you check out the visitor centers and drive by the historic lodge.

      

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Crater Lake, there’s so much to do here that you really need to plan a whole day or more if you want to do a decent amount of exploring all the trails.

There is a $15 entrance fee, dogs are allowed in certain areas, and it’s very family friendly.

If you have more time, check out Toketee Falls about 25 miles past the North entrance.

Disappearing Lake (Kayak)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right onto Highway 14 and after a little over 14.5 miles take a left onto Cook Underwood Rd. Follow this road for about 5 miles and take a left onto Willard Road. Willard Road turns into Oklahoma Road, follow it a short distance until you see a sign for Forest Road 66. Take a left onto FR 66 and follow it for over 12.5 miles (the last couple miles of this road is gravel) until you come to two lakes. Disappearing Lake is on the left, South Prairie Lake is on the right.

We did this kayak last year and we liked it so much we have decided to do it every memorial day weekend. To learn more about this interesting lake (that’s only around for short time each year) see our first post here.

This year the water level was much higher from all the rain and snow we got. We even ran into snow on the forest road that the lake is next to. With the water level being higher we were able to explore more of the lake this time. There are a few side areas that you can squeeze your kayak through to get farther back into the trees.

      

The lake is almost split in two by a row of trees. The first part is pretty open and has a few small areas that you can easily get into with your kayak. We saw a snake hanging on to a tree out in the water which was quite interesting.

      

The back part of the lake is full of trees that you can kayak in between. In our opinion this is the best part of the lake. It’s really interesting and almost looks like a bayou. The trees are very tall and covered in vines and moss. There are dead trees that have fallen all throughout the lake as well. Back in this part is where we got to explore more of the side branches of the lake. In some places the water level was extremely low and we had to really squeeze our kayak through debris and low hanging branches. But once you got back into the side parts the pools deepened.

      

This lake is really calm which makes for an easy paddle. Make sure you plan enough time to really explore this area, there is a lot to see here. Just a few steps across the road from Disappearing Lake is South Prairie Lake. It would be a nice lake to paddle around in as well if you have the time.

It’s hard to predict when to visit this lake. It depends so much on what type of weather we had throughout winter. Plus how hot or mild spring starts out. We’ve found that memorial day weekend has been nice both years but we did prefer the higher water level so we may have to go earlier in May if we have a drier winter. Also, make sure you come back and visit this place after it drains, the meadow is beautiful! Check it out here.

Distance: —

Elevation:—

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes if your animal enjoys hanging out on the kayak with you 🙂

Good For: All ages. This lake would be great for beginners!

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: There is a very small season for this lake usually mid May through early June.

Popular: No

Overall: Very unique area, we’ll be back for years to come.

Memaloose Hills (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 to exit 69. Follow Highway 30 east and in 3 miles you will see the Memaloose Overlook sign with a gravel parking lot on the left.

This is a great hike in the spring during the Gorge wildflower season.

      

From the parking area cross the road and take the unmarked trail. The trail starts out fairly flat, there are oak trees all around and a couple houses out in the distance. If you are doing this hike in peak wildflower season you will be surrounded by many different types of flowers. Lower on the trail we saw balsamroot, blue-eyed mary, shooting stars, and harsh paintbrush.

      

      

The trail heads uphill gradually and levels out again. Here we saw blooming miners lettuce, western buttercup, upland larkspur, naked broomrape, and chocolate lily. There were also lots of birds, bees, and butterflies. Soon, the trail heads downhill to a small seasonal stream that you will cross and stay straight on the trail. The trail opens up where you will see a farm and start winding uphill. The balsamroot is profuse here all over the side of the hill and the lupine was just starting to bloom.

      

      

Once at the top of the hill you will have views of the Gorge and Highway 30 down below. There is also ballhead waterleaf and big-head clover blooming at the top. This is the end of the hike, head back out the way you came in.

      

      

This quickly turned into our new favorite wildflower hike, there are just so many different flowers blooming here. Other wildflower hikes nearby are Rowena Plateau and Tom McCall Nature Preserve, they are just another 3 miles up the highway.

We do want to warn everyone that poison oak grows all along this trail and we are heading into tick season. For more on ticks click here.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All but spring is best

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Overall: We highly recommend this hike for anyone wanting to experience the wildflowers in the Gorge.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival (2017)

The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival is located in Woodburn, Oregon and is running through April 30th this year.

This is our third year going to the Tulip Festival and it’s been great every year. There are two fields, a garden, and lots of different activities for all ages. This is the first year we went on a day there was a hot air ballon which was fun to see.

      

      

We got to the fields right when it opened and it was still very busy, might try going early on a weekday next year. Most of the flowers were blooming but there were patches of flowers that probably needed another week.

      

      

There is a large area full of kid friendly activities, craft booths, and food vendors. There is also a man who makes wooden shoes!

      

      

You can buy potted tulips and bulbs in the gift shop area. We would recommend wearing rubber boots, the fields are very muddy.

If you want more information about the festival you can visit their website here.

We hope everyone is enjoying spring!

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?

 

Frozen Gorge (2017)

Oregon has been experiencing one of its coldest winters in quite some time. We’ve had multiple ice and snow events making for some very pretty scenes across the state. Every time we have an extended period of freezing weather we like to get out and see what the Columbia River Gorge is looking like. To see our previous Frozen Gorge post click here and here.

Our first stop was Multnomah Falls. There were more people than we thought would be here since the roads were still a mess. It was probably the most frozen we’ve personally ever seen this waterfall.

      

Next up was Oneonta Gorge. The stairs that take you down into the gorge were a solid sheet of ice, we would definitely recommend wearing some sort of traction for your shoes.  The icicles lining the gorge were huge! The water was mostly frozen over but we stopped at the log jam, falling in the water would have been a very dangerous situation!

      

Our last stop was Horsetail Falls. There was so much ice that it was blue in places, the ice formations were so interesting! Again, everything was slick but it was well worth the effort!

      

The drive out was beautiful as well!

Hope everyone has been enjoying all this gorgeous winter weather! We’d love to hear about what you’ve been seeing/doing 🙂

Watson Falls (Autumn)

Directions: From the entrance to Crater Lake National Park on Highway 138 continue West on the highway for about 24 miles. There are signs for Watson Falls.

Watson falls is the third highest waterfall in Oregon!

From the parking area get on the trail that heads up some wooden steps and takes you across the highway. The trail heads uphill sometimes steeply but nothing that’s too hard. About a third mile up the trail you will come to a great area in the creek that’s covered in moss and ferns with water coming out all over, and you can actually see Watson Falls from here too.

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Continue up some stone steps that lead you to a wooden bridge that crosses the creek. From here the trail passes a bench and starts switchbacking up to the waterfall where the trail ends at another bench and great views of the waterfall and surrounding area.

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Since you are in the area we highly recommend that you stop by Clearwater Falls, it’s just a few miles from Watson Falls. The waterfall is just a few steps from the parking area. Make sure to hike up the left side of the waterfall to see the creek above!

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Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages- just be aware that there are some steps and switchbacks

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Check for road closures during snowy months.

Popular: No

Overall: Very pretty hike, lots of places you’ll want to stop and take pictures along the trail!

Toketee Falls (Autumn)

Directions: From the entrance to Crater Lake National Park on Highway 138 follow the highway West for about another 25 miles or so. You will see signs for Toketee Falls.

From the parking area pass the wooden pipeline that is diverting water from the North Umpqua River to a powerhouse downstream and get onto the trail. Crossing over a small bridge the trail heads downhill slightly as you pass through a wooded area and come to your first set of stairs. As you continue you will be going through three more sets of stairs. Some are stone and some are wooden with chainlink fence.

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You will follow along the North Umpqua River the whole time and there are many points along the way to stop and get a good look at it. The trail ends at a wooden viewing platform with a tree coming up the middle of it and a bench. You get a great view of the waterfall and the amazing columnar basalt.

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Since you are in the area we would recommend stopping at Whitehorse Falls, it’s just a few miles from Toketee Falls. The waterfall is just steps from the parking area!

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Distance: 1 mile

Elevation: 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: This trail is good for most, but there are a lot of steps, so it may not be good for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at trailhead.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Check for road closures during the snowy months.

Popular: Yes

Overall: Lovely riverside hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall surrounded by amazing columnar basalt!